"By the purple moon, I find you.
Sleeping and dreaming about the world
and how it's better without you.
Darling, blues don't make us fools.
Following them turns us from one to two.
Baby listen, I choose you. Truth be told, I choose you."
Purple Moon - Ricardo Bouyett
Eleshia approached me with this amazing idea for a film. It was simple, elegant, and critical. She wanted to create a narrative short that gave a voice to those who often don't have one. The goal was to make a project that was honest and spoke purely about owning one's past, present, and future. We can't control what happens to us, but we can control how we manage it and move forward.
I've personally felt responsible for opening up my platform and my artwork to opportunities to collaborate with other artists to create such work. Eleshia's project was a perfect springboard, a perfect chance to test the waters. Hearing her story, Neko's story, and Shaun's story was a spiritual moment for me I'll never forget and will forever cherish. I connected with each of them in a way I haven't been able to connect with other artists in Chicago. It was rare to genuinely meet artists who made work about recovery from abuse and trauma who were authentic in their approach to collaborating with me. I felt humbled that Eleshia trusted me enough to help her craft her first short film and I was honored and quite honestly, very excited.
Weeks leading up to the shoots we were faced with a few challenges, some I hadn't faced before in my short time as a filmmaker. It was highly rewarding for me to find solutions for Eleshia, incredibly reassuring when I thought on my feet and made what little we had to work with feel like an abundance. I wrote a little song, "Purple Moon", on the spot and turned Eleshia's raw words into a poem for her to perform. All in the moment, all with Eleshia staring right at me. That's what I love about collaborations. Beauty, solidarity, and spontaneity.
"I choose a life without fear.
My sex has always been tied to my race.
Raised to believe that blackness is unholy, that the arc that carries
my soul is not a vessel for my love and growth to live but a lamb for your men to slaughter.
An object in the sight of an unfeeling world, I still choose to live without fear.
No longer will I live to fit boundaries that make others feel comfortable.
My body is not the true north of your immoral compass.
Secrets. Lies. Torture.
Threaten me with a lily and I'll walk along water like Jesus taught me.
I choose a new path.
I choose happiness in the face of your ugliness, I choose life without fear."
Without Fear - Eleshia Simms-Harris x Ricardo Bouyett
Working alongside Eleshia was an experience I'll forever treasure and I can only hope for future collaborations together. "Living Your Truth" an Eleshia Simms-Harris short film is out now on Vimeo, please watch.